You notice your brakes are squeaking so you take your car to the shop to have them checked. You and the mechanic discuss what work needs to be done and he gives you a written estimate.
A few days later, the mechanic calls you and informs you that your car is ready. You arrive at the shop and the mechanic hands you a bill for the price you both agreed on. However, during the last several days, a family emergency has arisen and you can no longer afford to pay the total. So, now what?
A mechanic’s lien may have been created. In Texas, if a person has furnished labor and repairs and has not been paid for those services, a lien arises against the vehicle.
A mechanic’s lien is only created when the registered owner of the vehicle is given a written statement of the services and charges and the mechanic has only completed that work which was previously agreed upon by the customer.
Mechanic’s liens are enforced through judicial foreclosure sales. Therefore, the mechanic must file suit asserting the lien against the registered owner.
The court must then determine if all of the statutory requirements have been met and that no other party has a superior right to the property. If the court finds the mechanic has first priority and the requirements have been met, the court will order the vehicle to be sold at a foreclosure sale.
The proceeds of the sale will then be applied to the amount owed to the mechanic and any amount left over will be given to the registered owner.
Types of Property
The scenario above only discusses a lien with regard to a car in a repair shop. However, a mechanic’s lien may also be created in regard to other property.
Regarding real property, a mechanic’s lien may be known as a “construction lien.” For those who provide supplies and materials to other’s without payment, a materialman’s lien or “supplier’s lien” may attach. All of these liens are created and enforced exactly the same but have different names to clarify what property they attach to.
What Can You Do?
You should discuss your situation with the mechanic and work out a payment plan if possible. Most companies and individuals will understand that situations arise that cause financial hardships and are willing to work with you on payments.
It is important to know that these liens exist and that the mechanic may in fact have a superior right to your property than you do. When I say “superior right,” I mean that the mechanic can keep your vehicle until you pay off the balance.
–Authored by Matthew L. Harris, Esq.,
Matthew Harris Law, PLLC – Civil Litigation Division
1001 Main Street, Suite 200, Lubbock, Texas, 79401-3309
Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479